60th anniversary event at ‘perfect’ Midget track will include division royalty
Waterford, CT — Waterford Speedbowl will host a special event this Saturday, May 12 as the Northeastern Midget Association (NEMA) comes to town with a big celebration planned. The popular division will be in the spotlight as it commemorates its Diamond Anniversary – 60 years in racing – with plenty of personnel that contributed to its history on hand.
Sixty laps of feature racing, thirty each for the NEMA Midgets and the companion NEMA Lites, highlights the racing on what is widely regarded as a ‘perfect’ Midget racetrack. The Speedbowl’s combination of smooth race surface, degree of banking and length of straightaway make for some of the finest Midget races in the east. The NEMA feature will be the Marvin Rifchin Trophy Race, memorializing one of NEMA’s greatest contributors and a New England racing legend. The tire maker (M&H Tire) was a frequent attendee at NEMA events for most of its 60-year history.
NEMA President Mike Scrivani Jr. could not think of a more suitable venue. “The Speedbowl is the ideal spot for this race. It has always been a special place for Midgets in general and NEMA in particular”. Indeed, the three-eighths mile shoreline oval has been a major part of NEMA from the beginning. The second-ever NEMA race was held at the Speedbowl in May 1953 and Midget racing has been a mainstay at the Speedbowl nearly every year since.
NEMA’s VIP list for the event is impressive. More than a dozen champions will be on hand for the celebration, including Dave Humphrey. Humphrey is a six-time NEMA champion and second on the all-time win list with 73 triumphs from 1965 through 1986. Three of Humphrey’s championship car owners – John McCarthy, Bob Pascale and Carl Kibbe – are also slated to attend.
Others planning to be in attendance Saturday include champion drivers Lou Fray (1970), Butch Walsh (1973), Johnny Mann (1972, 1974), Bobby Seymour (1987), Mike Seymour (1994), Russ Stoehr (1990, 1997, 2000-2002), Joey Payne (2003) and Randy Cabral (2008-2009, 2011). The champion owners’ guest list includes Rollie Linblad (1976), Bruce Beane (1997), Tim Bertrand (2008-2009, 2011) and Scrivani (1978) in addition to those above. Several others including former Presidents and Officials are on the list as well.
Competitors uniformly agree the remarkable guest list offers “incredible motivation” to take the Rifchin Trophy, already one of the most coveted in the division. Cabral, Stoehr and Payne are all active past champions and have 19 Speedbowl wins among them. Jim Miller, Barry Kittredge, Chris Leonard, Adam Cantor, Todd Bertrand, Greg Stoehr and 2012 Speedbowl Budweiser Blastoff winner John Zych Jr. are other entries with Speedbowl victories on their resume, setting up a field of extremely capable and talented racers for Saturday’s event. Zych turned a 13.003 second lap at Blastoff, good for a 104 mph lap. A good possibility exists for times to dip into the lightning-quick 12-second range Saturday.
The NEMA celebration joins the Speedbowl’s NASCAR Whelen All-American Series race program Saturday. The SK Modifieds® (35-laps), Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Models (30-laps), Street Stocks (25-laps) and Mini Stocks (25-laps) will resume their championship battles. The NEMA Midget feature is slated for 7:00pm, followed by a party under the Speedbowl hospitality tent later in the night. The Speedbowl’s weekly divisions have already been staging some of the finest side-by-side short track racing thus far in 2012, with many memorable finishes. More information including a detailed schedule of events for Saturday is available by visiting Speedbowl.com.
Sources: Brian Darling/Waterford Speedbowl PR